October 23rd, 2020

Toronto shooting needs answers


By Lethbridge Herald on July 28, 2018.

Latest tragedy further evidence that Toronto has
a gun problem
The thirst for answers to questions about Toronto’s Danforth tragedy is becoming overpowering. What drove the alleged shooter? How did someone with a well-known history of mental instability get a handgun? Was ideology involved in his actions?
Journalists feel this thirst as much or more than most. The business of disseminating news, especially in the era of ubiquitous cable coverage, is driven in large part by questions and answers. When we have all the questions and few answers, it’s frustrating.
The truth is, we don’t know what we don’t know. There is no credible evidence at this point suggesting Faisal Hussain’s alleged actions are linked to terrorism. That hasn’t stopped the fact-free world of alt-right media outlets from speculating and inventing. There’s his last name and his family’s heritage. That’s enough for Breitbart, Fox News and Canada’s The Rebel to infer, invent and interpret any squib of information as evidence Hussain’s actions were terrorism.
Maybe, but there’s no proof of that so far. At this point, we don’t know what drove Hussain, but the most likely possible motive is more about his mental health than personal ideology, according to his family.
There are things we do know, and they provide ample fodder for study, discussion, debate and change, if appropriate. Take, for example, the question of guns.
It’s no secret that Toronto has a gun problem, as well as a gang problem. And while it’s most acute in that city, it has an impact on communities surrounding Toronto. Gun violence is escalating dramatically.
John Tory, the former Progressive Conservative politician turned Toronto mayor, is hardly a left-leaning anti-gun advocate. But he is convinced that the problem is critical — enough so that he wants to see handguns banned in his city. Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is willing to discuss the idea, but points out it would require changes to the Criminal Code. Then there’s the political pushback: Why penalize the majority of law-abiding gun owners for the actions of a minority?
Tory, and a growing number of others, would answer: Because, while a handgun ban wouldn’t eliminate the use of guns in violent crime, it would reduce the supply, and that’s worth impinging on the individual rights of legal gun owners. It’s a compelling argument, and with every gang shooting and public tragedy like the Danforth incident, it gets more so.
Another aspect of this unfolding story will receive more attention in days to come. Hussain’s family says they worked for his entire life to get him adequate help with ongoing mental health issues. He got all the help available, presumably including appropriate medication, and nothing seemed to work. In the vast majority of cases, people with serious mental illness are more risk to themselves than anyone else. But every once in a while, the outcome is different, and that leads to questions.
Was there more that could have been done? Was he identified as a risk to the public? And how on earth did he get a gun?
These and a host of other questions are begging for answers. But that will only happen in good time as the investigation works through this tragedy. Meantime, we wait, and avoid jumping to conclusions.
An editorial from the Hamilton Spectator (distributed by The Canadian Press)

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